Despite the fact that it seems like 2017 flew by, as I’ve been going over the year’s events, I’ve realized that a lot has actually happened!
I grew so much as a blogger in 2017, and partnered with over 50 different brands. The majority of my partnerships were with beauty, fashion, or lifestyle brands, and I managed to make over $30,000 this year, which was more than last year’s earnings! My goal was actually just to match last year’s income and turn down anything beyond that, but there were so many cool partnership opportunities with brands I would have never dreamed of working with that I couldn’t say no. My favorite partnerships this year were the video I recorded with PureWow for Sephora, the photoshoot at Columbia University with Maggy London, my halloween tutorial for Jamaican Mango & Lime, and everything I did with L’Occitane, who reached out to me not once, not twice, but THREE times for campaigns. The L’Occitane work really stretched me to think creatively about sponsored posts and product placement, which has definitely made me a better blogger.
African Inspired Living Room Gallery Wall, January 2017 (see our whole living room here)
Although I received some pushback for not producing as much natural hair content in 2017 as in past years, I am grateful for my followers who have welcomed the content shift. I’ve been natural for 7 and a half years now, and the zeal I had for hair care, hair styling, and even for the politics of natural hair, has since faded. Since dying my hair blond, I’ve been lazier and lazier with my hair, which not only translates to less hair related content, but has also resulted in less healthy hair. In 2018 I want to restore my hair’s health so I will be protecting it more and laying off color for a while. I might even cut it again, who knows. But my hair is no longer the bread and butter of my personality, nor of my brand, so if I talk about it, just know that either the product or the style is REALLY interesting and worth discussing.
Another major change I’ve made with the business aspect of my blog is changing my Instagram account to ijeomakola. With the release of Instagram stories, the platform has become an avenue to share a wider array of personal content, so I changed my account name to reflect that. I’ve also realized that I need a team to create high quality content, so I’ve worked with a photographer turned friend for several months, Taylor Carment. In 2018, I’m looking to add two more photographers to my team, as well as an assistant and someone that can help with the creative direction of some of my shoots, since that’s a skill I lack. If you’re in the NYC metro area and have any relevant skills, please hit me up!
I traveled surprisingly a lot this year, heading to Philadelphia for my bachelorette weekend, Jamaica for our honeymoon, Jackson, Mississippi for a wedding, Boston for our five year college reunion, the Poconos with my family, the Hamptons for a super cool event with PureWow, LA for my birthday, and Kenya and Nigeria for Christmas vacation! I’ve perfected packing a carry on for sure!
Academically, I crossed a lot of milestones this year. I defended my dissertation proposal, gave my first invited talk, and was accepted to a national conference (my second one)! I’ve been fighting my department all year for funding which has been exhausting, but motivated me to put my heart and soul into four dissertation completion fellowship applications for what will, by God’s grace, be my last year of this PhD! I got really good momentum in terms of my research, though I got kind of side tracked at the end of the year with the talk, travel, and applying for dissertation completion fellowships. I’m starting off 2018 with a research trip to Denver, and then I expect that momentum to carry on so I can stay on track for my May 2019 graduation.
It’s now been a year that Jonathan and I have been on our church’s praise and worship team – bet ya didn’t know that! – and it has been amazing growing closer to our church family and having the opportunity to serve in various ways. I have a heart and a passion for teen empowerment so I’m looking forward to working with our church teens in 2018 to teach and encourage them in both the things of God and just regular life.
On the down side, I really struggled with “Instagram envy” this year. I at times became obsessed with the numbers – how many likes I got, how many followers I had, especially compared to other people with my same demographic. Finding out that a lot of accounts that I admired paid for likes only made matters worse. I hated that I put so much effort into trying to grow my account – planning out posts, trying to coordinate my feed, having witty captions, etc – when other people were just shelling out coins for false engagement and followers.
I also struggled with my skin and body this year. I got really toned before the wedding since I was committed to eating well and working out regularly with JCF bootcamp, and looked and felt healthier than ever. I got lazy and comfortable post-wedding, and feel like I’m back to square one! I’m still trying to figure out what a healthy balance is between wanting to be more lean, and loving the curves I have that my husband fully enjoys. My skin has also been a rollercoaster – several times this year I thought I got a handle on my adult acne, just to have it resurface with a vengeance. I’ve tried microdermabrasion, natural products, chemical products, LED light therapy, microneedling, and light peels – which have all worked temporarily. Before I traveled I did a lot of research on zinc and probiotics and their ability to fight acne, and I’ll be adding salicylic acid to my skincare regimen. I’m claiming 2018 to be the year I get completely clear skin!
Of course, the hallmark moment of 2017 was our wedding on April 8th, and all the events surrounding it. The journey to marriage was very long and at times tumultuous for us, so it’s been pretty emotional for me to blog about it. I am SO very glad that everything worked out to God’s glory, and we were able to begin our marriage with the support of our family and friends. Though I won’t be able to talk about all the different components of our wedding, I did share a bit of the planning process, how we budgeted, choosing our vendors, etc. I even got to partner with a few major wedding brands like Davids Bridal, The Knot, and WeddingWire!
Looking forward to 2018, I want to be EXCELLENT in everything I do. Excellence is different from perfection, and is more about the effort you put in versus the outcome. I was distracted with wedding things for most of 2017, so I didn’t give a lot of plans, decisions, or relationships 100% of my attention, and it cost me. From failed business relationships to missed academic deadlines, I had more than enough screw ups in 2017. Next year, I plan to be on time for meetings and deadlines, devote 100% of my attention to the tasks at hand rather than multi-tasking, and give my all in everything I do, from finishing my PhD to growing my blog to being a wife. I’m super excited to continue sharing my journey with you all, and I hope you stay along for the ride!